Ten years ago, this site emerged as a natural outgrowth of my vocation to strengthen interreligious understanding through writing. Here you’ll find essays about Muslim-Christian relations, op-eds on politics and culture, tales of travel in the Middle East, personal reflections on God and religion, and updates about my publications in other outlets.
I hope the content is a source for discussion and contemplation for people of all religions or of no faith.
“You are my witness…and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am He.”
Isaiah 43:10, the Bible
“And thus have We willed you to be a community of the middle way, so that you might bear witness to the truth before all mankind.”
Surat al-Baqara, the Qur’an
4 Replies to “Mission”
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6)
I’m going to guess that you posted this quote from John’s Gospel to imply, “Muslims and non-Christians aren’t saved because they don’t believe in Jesus.” I don’t want to assume, but since you didn’t provide an explanation, this is what I have to guess you meant.
I used to have a lot of trouble with this passage. I, like many, though that this passage was saying that those who don’t consciously assent to a belief in Christ will not go to heaven. This troubled me, because there are many billions of people who don’t profess this belief. I couldn’t believe that our God of mercy would not allow them the opportunity of salvation.
But, over the past few years, I discovered what the Catholic Church, my denomination, says about the salvation of non-Christians and what salvation means in general. Salvation is about becoming unified, becoming a member of the corporate body of Christ. Salvation is about Christ drawing us into union with himself. Salvation is not simply arriving at place, and it is not achieved by a formulation of words, or by a structure. Conscious, rational belief doesn’t save, and neither does the Church. Jesus–a person!–saves. The Second Vatican Council clearly stated that if people are saved, it is through Christ, that Christ came to save all of humankind, and that salvation is thus offered to all, regardless of their particular stated beliefs.
So I have come to understand John 14:6 in a new way, the Catholic Church’s way. I can easily proclaim and believe in this line from John while still embracing my Muslim brothers and sisters and not wanting to convert them. I know that Jesus wants to bring all of us to his Father. We all have the potential to be saved by Christ.
Jdenari, you are distorting the Church’s teachings here. We are saved through a marriage, corporately. That is we are saved as a body through Christ by becoming members of the Bride of Christ, which is the Mystical Body of Christ. In other words, we are saved through the Church, and this is the way that our Christ set it up.
Many Muslims secretly have converted to Christianity through dreams and other experiences. Of course, they can’t reveal this in their society (not even to their close family) because of the strict penalties they may incur for their apostasy from Islam.
Also, for what it is worth. I don’t know if many or few are ultimately saved. My belief is that God saves everyone who proves themselves to be salvageable, but for most of these people, the final and last chance is that eternal moment of their death. That is to say, I think God makes one final appeal at that moment which may extend for seeming very long time for the person subjectively.
Simply put, however, the Church’s teaching have not and cannot be changed: There is no salvation outside of the Church, period. Now, Vatican II chose to emphasize this in its positive expression which has caused much confusion as your whole mission illustrates. Still, whatever you find in any Church documents has to be squared with the whole tradition which is very clear. Islam is apostasy from Christianity those who reject Christ’s universal offer of salvation, through the Church, are not redeemable.
I am Canadian so I could not comment on the fear mongering in the states towards Muslims.
I just read your article about the Muhammad cartoons. I do not find the wide dissemination of them tasteful, however I do believe that people need to express themselves in peaceful ways that do not harm others. I don’t think that cartoons should be taken so literally. I do think that in Canadian society people are afraid to have a view or even approach some subjects because they are worried about being labeled racist. In reality every culture is different and some cultures are quite diverse. I was in Afghanistan for 8 months 2009-2010 also, Dubai, Egypt and several other African countries, my opinion is not based on just an impoverished war torn country. The Muslim society that I have been immersed in is not something I would want my daughters growing up in. To each their own.